Amidst the flurry of activity at the General Assembly special session this morning is a less flashy but nonetheless vital bill, HB6, which would massively reorganize the digital backbone of state government. The proposal has not received a great deal of attention, but could have far-reaching consequences.
HB6 – Independent State CIO – would create an independent Department of Information Technology (DIT), headed by a nominee of the Lt. Governor and confirmed by the General Assembly. DIT has the power to oversee IT functions across state government, including:
- “Approve selection of respective agency chief information officers.”
- Review IT appropriations and expenditures for each State agency.
- Compel agencies to report on IT “assets, systems, personnel, and projects.”
- Determine how IT “assets, systems, and personnel are provided and distributed among agencies.”
It remains unclear what problem HB6 addresses or how this bill is the answer. However, given the importance of IT to all functions of state government, an independent CIO could effectively block administrative priorities and programs.
HB6 raises some crucial questions without offering any clear solutions to an existing issue. How many other states don’t give a gubernatorial appointee the authority to coordinate IT functions across state government? Could this change create additional IT costs that would take away from other state needs? How many other state agencies are headed by a nominee of the Lieutenant Governor and confirmed by the General Assembly? For that matter, how many private companies would prevent the Chief Executive Officer from overseeing the Chief Information Officer?
Even if there are reasons to look at how IT functions are coordinated across state government, effective reform requires a great deal more assessment and reflection than has been allowed thus far.